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District judge to decide future of Float Fest

River Festival
Thursday, February 14, 2019

A district judge may have the final say in the future of the outdoor music festival Float Fest.

In light of Float Fest promoter Marcus Federman’s lawsuit against Guadalupe County following the denial of a large gathering permit request, county commissioners are allowing the appeal to go forward after taking no action against the pending litigation in executive session during their regular meeting Tuesday afternoon.

A district judge will be supplied the appeal, a transcript of the initial hearing from Jan. 24 and all evidence submitted to the hearing. After review, the judge will make a decision to either uphold or overturn the commissioners’ 3-2 decision to deny Float Fest a permit.

“We will respect any decision made by a judge,” County Judge Kyle Kutscher said. “We are confident we made the right decision in the hearing but the judge will have the final say. It’s out of our hands now.”

A timeline for the appeal has not been determined yet, nor has a specific judge been selected to review the case at this time.

If the decision to deny Float Fest’s permit request is upheld, Federman and his company may have further recourse by reaching a settlement with the county, as was the case in several previous years, or can appeal the case further to a higher appellate court.

Federman’s request for a large gathering permit was denied 3-2 during the initial hearing Jan. 24. Kutscher and Pct. 2 and 4 commissioners Drew Engelke and Judy Cope voted against the measure, citing concerns for the volume of traffic created by the event. Pct. 1 and 3 commissioners Greg Seidenberger and Jim Wolverton voted to grant the permit.

In Float Fest’s petition for appeal, the document claims the commissioners’ decision was not based on evidence submitted through the hearing and was not properly assessed using the criteria set forth by county statute. Specifically, the appeal criticizes the commissioners voting based on traffic concerns raised by citizens in public comments while neglecting the testimony of third-party traffic engineer Rene Arredondo, who reported swift movement of vehicles during the festival, facilitated by off-duty police officers.

Additional concerns of safety, the environment and noise were discussed at the Jan. 24 hearing but not explicitly factored into the court’s decision to deny the permit.

Float Fest is a tubing and music festival held in Guadalupe County on the San Marcos River. The festival has been held in late July every year since 2014. The festival has grown in size and in popularity of musical acts with each subsequent year. Float Fest has showcased performers such as Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Tame Impala and Weezer in previous years.

Zach Ienatsch is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at zach.ienatsch@seguingazette.com.